Keaton Parks isn’t judged on his goal scoring.
He can play three different positions in the middle of the park, he’s strong in the air, good at clogging up passing lanes and opening up spaces and distributing for teammates.
But goal scoring? Yeah, it’s been a bit of a taking point in the New York City FC locker room.
“I get a lot of jokes around the locker room that I haven’t scored yet. I’ve had chances and some of them pretty easy. I missed a lot of chances, but it feels really good now and they can’t talk trash anymore.”
And even after Parks struck for his first league goal — he’s quick to point out the two he’s scored in the U.S. Open Cup — NYCFC captain Alex Ring still threw shade in his direction, along with some plaudits following a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
“He deserved it,” Ring said. “He left a sitter with his head a couple [of games ago]. This one was 10 times harder.”
The sitter in front of goal came against the New York Red Bulls in a 2-1 Hudson River Derby win at Yankee Stadium Aug. 24.
The goal was, in many ways, a representation of so many of Parks’ strengths. He picked off an errant throw-in at midfield, and powered into space. Parks slipped a pass to Gary Mackay-Steven, whose shot was saved well by Daniel Vega.
Parks wisely continued his run, he said, to support the Scottish winger and was in the right spot for the rebound for the 40th-minute equalizer.
“I was really counting on him to score the goal after I did that whole run,” Parks said. “He had a good attempt on target and the keeper made a great save. Luckily, I was still there for the rebound and I got my chance on goal.”
There were no jokes about missed opportunities from NYCFC coach Dome Torrent — though he did admit Parks should have scored against both the Red Bulls and New England Revolution — but he lauded the 22-year-old for his improvement throughout the season.
Parks went from a total of 55 minutes over the course of the first 14 regular season games, an unused substitute nine times, to being an indispensable part of Torrent’s starting XI.
“I remember when he arrived here, I know how important it is for every single player to play with confidence. But he had focus just when he had the ball,” Torrent said. “And right now, he helps a lot our team even when we don’t have the ball, recover a lot of balls. He’s an amazing player right now for our team.”
Parks, who had 20 successful passes in the Quakes’ half, including nine in the final third and a pair of key passes, as well as two tackles won and two interceptions, was subbed off in the 77th minute for Tony Rocha.
Parks played a total of 257 minutes over the course of eight days.
“Keaton played amazing,” Torrent said. “We changed Keaton because in the last 20 minutes he had discomfort in the back. He told me five minutes and I need to change. It’s just discomfort, he’s not injured.”
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